Citizens and politicians of all stripes generally agree that controlling “the bureaucracy” is difficult, elusive, and frustrating. In this new book, Eleanor Schiff (Bucknell Univ.) explores the question of “who controls the bureaucracy” through a quantitative analysis of 139 agencies and a case study of US education policy at the federal level. The author’s extensive Washington experience informs her understanding of the issue and the book’s central theme: “political control of the bureaucracy is contingent on characteristics of the bureaucratic agency itself” (p. 6). She makes the case for an “agent-principal” approach to replace the simpler “principal-agent” approach traditionally employed in evaluating political control of bureaucratic agencies. . . Schiff's research supports some surprising findings: for example, Republican administrations move education policy in a slightly more liberal direction, and Democratic administrations have the opposite effect. She also finds that education policy is not responsive to public opinion, at least in the short term. Overall, Schiff concludes that the president and Congress do influence bureaucratic agencies, but agency structure and staff composition condition the extent and nature of that control. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels.